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Leonsis: Michael 'owned a generation of sports fans'

Caps Owner Ted Leonsis just sent via email his thoughts on legendary sportscaster George Michael, who died this morning:

First minute after the initial press conference announcing that we had bought the Washington Capitals; George Michael walks up to me--slaps me on the back and says... "Let me tell you how it works in this town -- you talk to me first -- then later it is ok to talk to Tony (Kornheiser) over there. As long as you play by the rules -- things will work out fine. By the way -- nice tie".

How can you not love a man who talks like that and means it?

He also told me -- "Your wife is beautiful; and smarter than you -- it is too bad she is blind because why else would she hook up with someone like you?" I always laughed with him -- but was never entirely sure if he meant it or not.

George Michael was a Washington Capitals season ticket holder. He reminded me of that fact every time I saw him. He loved DC -- he loved all sports -- he loved being in the limelight-- and he loved the Sports Machine. I view the Sports Machine as a seminal -- groundbreaking piece of new media journalism and George is NOT given enough credit as being a true pioneer -- it is up there as a mash up between MTV and ESPN; he owned a generation of sports fans. He was the face of new sports journalism. He helped to invent our multimedia-interactive future.

George was also a great horse man -- and he loved talking to my wife and daughter about his farm -- his horses and their care -- feeding and well being. He was very generous with his time and invitations to his farm and to us as a family.

I will miss George Michael as a man, a friend and as a once in a lifetime sportsman and journalist -- he was a "true giant"; and someone whose imprint is left on the sports landscape for all to see.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  December 24, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
 
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Comments

If George Michael was a Caps season ticket holder and loved hockey so much how come he gave Pro Wrestling more coverage? Even when the Caps were decent in the late 80s and mid to late 90s we got no love. Funny from a guy who I once heard got his start as a pbp guy for the Isles...to lazy to confirm that .

Posted by: BLUELINER34 | December 24, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Earlier on (early 80's) when the Caps were talking about moving, George Michael was the leader of the "Save The Caps" movement, so I don't think that it would be fair to say that he had no love for the team. In fact, you could say that there might not be a team if it wasn't for him.

Posted by: washwave | December 24, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@ BLUELINER34

you need to lose your inferiority complex. George Michael was a TV broadcaster for the Islanders before he came down to DC.

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

He was at one point the PBP guy for the Isles per this site, but Wikipedia said he was a commentator.

http://www.radio-info.com/sections/2/news_items/7954-george-michael-former-wfil-and-wabc-jock-and-sports-machine-host-dies-at-70

In any case, I ain't gonna stomp on his grave. Though, I can't disagree with Blueliner.......

Posted by: CF11555 | December 24, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

not only that it's a well known fact that he quit is job at Ch. 4 to prevent further layoffs... it's quite petty to say he gave more coverage to this and that than hockey on this day.

show some class.

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=36977

And, in fairness, a reference to Michael's Save the Caps contribution

Posted by: CF11555 | December 24, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I believe George actually got his start at stations in Philadelphia, where he and Glenn Brenner (who died from a brain tumor around Xmas 1992, if I recall correctly) had a friendly competition and apparently often drive each other to events they had to cover. I loved hearing stories about some of the pranks Glenn Brenner played on each other over the years, but they seemed to have genuine affection for each other, and Michael was devastated about Glenn's death.

I really don't think any of the local networks give hockey in-depth coverage - nowadays they simply don't get the time or budget, and Comcast, Tarik and the various blogs seem like the best place to get Caps info today. But I do think George was a Caps fan.

Posted by: blackjack65 | December 24, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

you need to lose your inferiority complex. George Michael was a TV broadcaster for the Islanders before he came down to DC.

inferior to what?

Did I say I was happy the guy was dead? My condolences to his friends and family. I did not know about his involvement in the STC campaign...great on him. but he sure didnt go out of his way on his broadcasts to bring and coverage of the Caps in a day where we didnt have the internet etc.

Posted by: BLUELINER34 | December 24, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

No one went out of the way to cover the Caps, so what's the problem?

Posted by: richmondphil | December 24, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I guess what I take offense to is a self proclaimed hockey guy not giving the local hockey team and its fans a bone from time to time. Yet we were always subjected to Fic Flair Hulk Hogan highlights or Pro Bullriding Bloopers. Just because he nor his counterparts werent doing it doesnt make it right.

Now with the internet I can get my hockey fix and I couldnt even tell you when Ive watched any network programming.

Again sorry the guys passed...prehaps it was distasteful to speak ill of the dead sorry to his friends and family. No harm intended

Posted by: BLUELINER34 | December 24, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

but he sure didnt go out of his way on his broadcasts to bring and coverage of the Caps in a day where we didnt have the internet etc.

Posted by: BLUELINER34 | December 24, 2009 2:28 PM

once his show became syndicated - he could no longer keep it to just local sports.

i don't think this meant he didn't care for the local teams anymore

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

yes I agree and wasnt refering to the sports maching program...but his local broadcasts.

Posted by: BLUELINER34 | December 24, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

george michael covered the caps more than any other sports guy in town. he did standups from the cap centre all the time. there's some video of him interviewing bob mason...bob mason. find me another sportscaster in that time who bothered to interview bob mason. every sports guy under reports on the caps, thats a given in this town, certainly in the fall. but george gave them more than the other guys, thats a fact.

he had a falling out with ted back around the time of the rebuild and i believe he dropped his tix. he alluded to it some times but never said why. i believe he disagreed with ted tearing the team apart.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

RIP Mr. Michael

Posted by: RITdude | December 25, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I remember George Michael from doing a Caps playoff game in 1984. The Capitals routed the Flyers in a sweep, and that was the final game. There was a brawl early, Bobby Carpenter and Mike Gartner got ejected (for new age CapsFan, those are former Capitals players), the Flyers fans were chanting "Bob (McCammon) must go", and Michael was going nuts, absolutely hilarious. He wasn't the Caps regular broadcaster, and I think there's a story behind that. I only remember him doing that one game that year.

Posted by: pga6 | December 25, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

It's a farce to say Michael didn't cover the Caps...he covered them FAR more than the other stations which were totally Redskins homers. Probably because the Redskins were winning championships...and the Caps weren't. Herzog and Brenner didn't do much in the way of hockey and anyone around there at that time knows it.Anyway, it's a bad dig at Michael to say he didn't cover the Caps much in their local telecasts...he would interview players rinkside, and I honestly can't recall the other stations doing that at all.

Posted by: pga6 | December 25, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

BLUELINER34

you dummy, wrestling was only on wednesdays on his show.

Posted by: MNMNT | December 25, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

George covered the sports and "sports" that others wouldn't - wrestling, rodeo, and yes, even hockey when it wasn't vogue. We will miss you George. I grew up watching your Sports Machine.

Glenn Brenner was a classic in this town too - I remember him asking a past Capital in an interview in the early 80's I think .. "Why is it you guys come out some nights like you're the Montreal Canadiens and other nights it is like watching paint dry?" Just classic ... miss you both.

Posted by: cwiseman | December 25, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Some of the most memorable moments for me about George Michael was when he and Jim Vance would start talking and they would start uncontrollably laughing and Dorne Gentzler (SP) would just look at them like you guys are clowns. RIP peace George. We will miss you...

Posted by: washingtoncapitals | December 25, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Some of the most memorable moments for me about George Michael was when he and Jim Vance would start talking and they would start uncontrollably laughing and Dorne Gentzler (SP) would just look at them like you guys are clowns. RIP peace George. We will miss you...

Posted by: washingtoncapitals | December 25, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

i too remember george doing pbp of a caps game once...i thought it was the islanders and for some reason the game started early on a weekday at like 4 or 5pm...maybe it was the flyers playoff game or maybe he did pbp for the caps more than once...i liked his pbp...much like i liked everythign he did...here is to you george, ive been watching you from the beginning and remember your save the caps telethons from my couch as a young lad...my dad seeing that (not to mention my interest from the miracle on ice) got his law firm to by 4 season tickets that year...

Posted by: deadskin | December 25, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

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